Name Awards Professional Commentary on Company Names, Product Brands and Business Names

Zulily is a great new name on an offensive welcome site

zulilyAfter all these years as a professional namer, and many years before that as an obsessed amateur, it is not often I find a new name style out there, but today I was surprised to read about Zulily, which is apparently a very popular site.

Firstly, if you are considering how to pronounce the name, realize that also leads to They also own but it does not go anywhere, and is held by some interloper from Canada who tries to catch their traffic. Luckily my faithful Ghostery ad blocking software stop their redirection of my browser.

In addition to their interesting name, the good news is they have a very specific tagline that helps position them to novices, and I am sure they are getting a lot of referral traffic, in addition to good publicity.  The bad news is I can’t tell you much more as they don’t let you view who they are and what they do without you first registering (though you can partially see the home page around their offensive sign in first box). And like anyone with online experience, you have to be nuts to join a site without first knowing what they are about – heck they could be another Romanian site collecting spam and personal data – so be very careful with any such sites.

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AARP has a great new tagline

AarpLogoTaglineAs the big baby boom wave starts to hit retirement age in the USA, it is very appropriate that the biggest retirement organization (unfortunately with just another set of initials name) chooses to update its position and go for a great new tagline: Real Possibilities.

I love it when so much power is contained in so short a tagline, and always wonder how many hundreds of words and taglines they studied before coming up with the final winner. In addition, it is nice to see the writers and editors in their magazine also embracing the tagline and making numerous references to it and using it as a hook for a number of stories.

Some companies and organizations are just stuck with an old name or set of initials. A new logo doesn’t make much of a difference. But anyone can do a new tagline or slogan, and easily get it legally approved. Congratulations to AARP for showing us a great example.

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Avigilon is a very awkward rotten name

avigilonLogoAs far as I can tell, Avigilon is a good company with a good hidef security product line that many retailers would love to have. But trying to be clever has made this name awkward. Why not simply Vigilon?

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Leatherhead Originals is a great name for a small outfit

Sometimes it seems to me we over think all these clever company names, and then along comes a very small business that shows us how a basic, but unique name, can do the job so well.

LeatherheadOriginalsIf you are looking for a jaw dropping great affect from your friends and family at the next Medieval Faire, fancy dress or Halloween, then seriously consider a leather hat or mask (or in my case helmet) from Leatherhead Originals. Beautiful soft, lined and often recycled leather in many colors are the materials of choice for this master craftsman. Yes, quality costs money, but ignore the price, you are going to keep it forever.
Plus Josh’s tagline is simple and direct: Unique Leather Hats & Masks.

And if the name and tagline haven’t hooked you yet, see the illustration logo on his business card here. Wow. If he can make that, what can this master craftsman make for you? See a lot more of his work on Etsy now that you know his name.

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Curiouser and curiouser…Whiskey Design Awards

2013 Whiskey Design Awards winner for Best Design Agency

2013 Whiskey Design Awards winner for Best Design Agency

The winners of the 2013 World Whiskies Design Awards have been announced, with Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 taking the Award for Best Design.

For those readers getting curiouser and curiouser about the title of this post, we refer you to the winner of the Best Design Agency… Stranger & Stranger.

Thus completing the Brighter Family trifecta: an award (Brand Name Awards) for packaging (Brighter Products), won by an outfit with a great name (Name Awards.)

Red Hat names sure get your attention

RedHatLogoWhen the Unix Open Source movement started with Linx way back when, I immediately noticed all the companies springing up to commercialize it. That in itself was an interesting idea because how do you make money off “free” software was a big question in those days. Even then, before I transitioned into being a naming professional full time I noticed the names. Without doing some research I can’t tell what the others were, or even if they have survived. But I can tell you I remembered the name Red Hat from the outset, and it continues to jump out at me every time I see the name.

Interestingly enough, I have not seen (or noticed) the logo as much but I do have a vague recollection of once upon a time wondering why some guy was ambling around a trade show in a big trench coat and a red hat. This name is so simple, so evocative and so unusual, it really stands well by itself.

RedHatSocietyLogoCompare that with the Red Hat Society and their use of the name and logo. I had never heard of this name and had to research it when I did first encounter it. Of course, I am not a lady, and even if I was I am not sure I would have the personality to dress up to the hilt in red and purple to go to lunch with other ladies. But what do I know. You will recognize them at their own table somewhere someday, if you haven’t already, as they now they claim to be the world’s largest ladies social group. And yes, they wear big hats just like in their logo – and typically dress in red and purple too.

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Isn’t Nome an interesting name?

NomegoldpanAs I write this column the Iditarod is in full running – in fact the first mushers just passed the halfway point. I love their tagline “The Last Great Race” as well. When it is just human, dogs and sleds in Alaska in Winter, then it really is a great race, especially as most teams will take over 11 days to complete their run, and few will have all 16 dogs left by then.

The race goes from Anchorage to Nome, which brings us to the name Nome. First of all, easy to pronounce once you see it, and nothing to do with gnome if you don’t. And almost every article I see on the town devotes a sentence or two to where the name came from. Most people now agree it was an accident. Someone wrote ?Name on a form in the space for town name. Someone else misinterpreted this as Nome and the rest is history.

Except that for a while during their gold rush it was called Anvil City, but there was some confusion with Anvil Lake not far away. So the post office rejected the name and they switched back to Nome to make sure they got their mail.

But don’t try to look it up on Google Maps and see how to drive there. First time I have seen Google’s phenomenal map service choke – there are no roads to Nome. You have to fly in, boat in or visit by sled dog or snow machine of some sort. Do look it up and see the Iditarod trail as all teams have GPS transmissions this year so we don’t have to wait three days for the news.

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Do you know why Parktown Dental is a great and strategic name?

ParktownDentalI am preparing a new comprehensive article on why you should not name your business after yourself when I was reminded of this Dental Service I used to walk by on my way to the gym. Being a namiac even simple names like Parktown catch my eye – in particular because that was a suburb name where I grew up (a couple of continents away).

Thinking I might get a clue from the dentists’ names, I checked the small print of this basic facility in Fremont, California. The partners were called Espejo and Nguyen, if I recall properly, back in those days. I never did find out why they called it Parktown unless they got that name from some version of Monopoly or something, but that isn’t the point. What if they did not want to cater exclusively to Hispanic or Vietnamese clients? Especially as they were located in a neighborhood that is predominantly Indian, Chinese and Caucasian?

More than that, suppose I wanted to recommend them. Instead of saying you should see my Dr Nguyen (or Dr Tim as I might have said to help him get a new client in the door), I can easily say go see Parktown Dentistry. Just sounds upper/middle class and is so easy for everyone to grasp and remember. Why they picked Parktown is irrelevant.. it is simply a great change from the Dentist’s own names. And I have remembered it for over 10 years, even though my name brain database overflows daily.

And it has one more great benefit, as was proven in this case. Dr Nguyen is no longer with the group. But I am sure they still want his Vietnamese patients – and many more of all sorts of international backgrounds seen in Silicon Valley now they have expanded to Mountain View too. And certainly not only Hispanic clients, even though the principles are now Espejo, Mohica and Espejo. One is even a lady dentist, which some people (mainly idiots) don’t like. All this is hidden behind the great branding and marketing of Parktown. My hat’s off to you.

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Xooming to new heights

XoomLogoThis past Friday Xoom executed on the ultimate branding event – going public on the stock exchange. As a regular user of the Xoom service, which beats the competitors by a mile, I feel remiss for not commenting on their name earlier.

Much as I like the name, I am surprised how many people hesitate over the pronunciation. Even though they know how to say xylophone and Xerox, for some reason they don’t immediately get that this name is simply Zoom with an X.

After many, many years in the naming business I continue to be pleasantly surprised about how the change of one letter in a name can make a big difference. Zoom is pedantic and common, but Xoom is unique and interesting. It doesn’t say “transfer money” like Moneygram implies, but then again it is a lot more appropriate a name than Western Union – as long as you haven’t grown up with Western Union as the brand for sending money.

And for all you software houses out there, don’t think of Xoom as just a way to send money to relatives. Think of it as a way to send money to off-shore contractors and vendors, especially those not wed to Paypal.

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Can the Frying Dragon fly? Or only as a restaurant name?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t believe that Frying Dragon was a proper name for anything, but then found some restaurants (typically Chinese) called The Frying Dragon. Also I know we shouldn’t make fun of foreigners trying to do their best with this complicated language called English, but do you really think they intended to call these padlocks Frying Dragon brand and not Flying Dragon?

Please folks, use a professional language service or naming agency, or at least check your names in your target markets to avoid this kind of embarrassment. This is especially important when you want to move up from being an embedded or OEM product and go retail with your own brand.

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